Rural hospital overcomes hurdles, wins national recognition
Not only is Redington-Fairview General Hospital one of the 100 best performing hospitals in the country, but it earned the designation despite the challenges of being in a rural, relatively isolated area, according to a recent study.
Maine General Medical Center in Augusta and York Hospital were the two other Maine hospitals named to the national top 100 list, but Redington-Fairview is unique because of its position as both a rural and critical access hospital, said John Morrow, co-founder of iVantage Health Analytics, the company that ranked 4,455 health centers nationwide.
“The fact that they are a critical access hospital and the fact that they are in rural America and the fact that they are recognized in the top 100, that is very meaningful,” Morrow said. “I am consistently surprised — pleasantly surprised — about organizations that appear in relatively obscure places that are just doing phenomenally well.”
Critical access hospitals have no more than 25 beds, keep patients no longer than an average of 96 hours and are typically more than 35 miles from the next hospital.
In addition to being in the top 2 percent of hospitals nationwide, Redington-Fairview was recognized as being one of the top 20 best performing rural hospitals out of 1,750 other rural medical centers. It was also ranked as one of the top 20 best critical access hospitals out of 1,300, Morrow said.
“For our medical staff and employees, that’s a big deal,” Chief Executive Officer Dick Willett said. “It really shows that we’ve got people who have really, really, really done some tremendous work.”
He said he was surprised when he was informed of the ranking. He wasn’t aware that iVantage was conducting the review.
The company measured the hospitals’ success by examining more than 50 publicly available indicators, Morrow said. A strong hospital has outstanding quality and safety programs, satisfied patients, appropriately priced services, a strong balance sheet with surplus capital and growing demand.
Data came from Medicare &TM MedicaidTM Services and include Medicare cost reports, patient-level information from Medicare claims, safety information from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in addition to market data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Morrow said the material was made available through the Freedom of Information Act and was presented in a consistent form that allowed iVantage “to compare facility to facility, from one end of the country to another.”
The review did not include about 500 hospitals in the U.S. that are either specialty hospitals or belonged to the VA Healthcare System, he said, but “it’s fundamentally every hospital in America.”
He said the company does not release the exact ranking of each hospital, and the difference between those in the top 100 is small. On its website, www.hospitalstrengthindex.com, it lists those in the top, second, third and bottom quarters.
The rankings are based purely on data, but afterward he spoke with Redington-Fairview staff to try to learn why the hospital is successful. Is it because of a particular management style? he said. Does the hospital have special programs or initiatives?
It appears, he said, that individual employees are simply focused on providing the best services possible.
“The only thing that we can look at are numbers,” he said. “But anecdotally, when you start talking about the team, about what makes them different, they’re very humble, and they’re very focused on delivering good care.”
Erin Rhoda — 612-2368
As published in MaineToday.com on January 7, 2012